News ID: 275780
Published: 0405 GMT October 20, 2020

Voters prefer Biden over Trump on almost all major issues, poll shows

Voters prefer Biden over Trump on almost all major issues, poll shows

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a nine-point lead over President Trump amid widespread public alarm about the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic and demand among voters for large-scale government action to right the economy, according to a national poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

With just two weeks left in the campaign, Trump does not hold an edge on any of the most pressing issues at stake in the election, leaving him with little room for a political recovery absent a calamitous misstep by Biden, the Democratic nominee, in the coming days. The president has even lost his longstanding advantage on economic matters: Voters are now evenly split on whether they have more trust in him or Biden to manage the economy.

On all other subjects tested in the poll, voters preferred Biden over Trump by modest or wide margins. Biden, the former vice president, is favored over Trump to lead on the coronavirus pandemic by 12 points, and voters trust Biden over Trump to choose Supreme Court justices and to maintain law and order by six-point margins. Americans see Biden as more capable of uniting the country by nearly 20 points.

Over all, Biden is backed by 50 percent of likely voters, the poll showed, compared with 41 percent for Trump and three percent divided among other candidates.

Most of all, the survey makes clear that crucial constituencies are poised to reject Trump because they cannot abide his conduct, including 56 percent of women and 53 percent of white voters with college degrees who said they had a very unfavorable impression of Trump — an extraordinary level of antipathy toward an incumbent president.

His diminished standing on economic matters and law and order is a damaging setback for the president, who for much of the general election has staked his fortunes on persuading Americans that a Biden administration will leave them impoverished and unsafe. But that argument has not managed to move the electorate in his direction.

Nor, according to the poll, have Trump’s efforts to tarnish Biden’s personal image and make him unacceptable to swing voters. Fifty-three percent of voters said they viewed Biden in somewhat or very favorable terms, compared with 43 percent who said the same of Trump.

A majority of voters said they saw Trump unfavorably, with 48 percent viewing him very unfavorably.

The margin of sampling error for the poll, which was conducted from Oct. 15 to 18, was 3.4 percentage points.

Part of the shift away from Trump on the economy may stem from voters’ urgent hunger for new relief spending from the federal government — which Trump has nominally endorsed but which he has not sought actively to extract from congressional Republicans.

Seven in 10 voters, including more than half of Republicans, said they wanted to see a new multitrillion-dollar stimulus program that includes government support for citizens and emergency help for state and local governments. There is also widespread public support for a $2 trillion renewable energy and infrastructure package that Biden has proposed as a form of economic stimulus.

Michael Zemaitis, an independent voter in Minnesota, said that he did not have complete confidence in Biden but that he saw him as a clearly superior option to Trump when it came to the pandemic and the economy.

“I guess I would say I have 70 percent confidence in him,” said Mr. Zemaitis, 49, who said he believed a Democratic administration would better handle the coronavirus pandemic. “Once that is dealt with, the economy will fall back into line.”

Voters have also been unpersuaded by Trump’s insistence, in defiance of public facts, that the coronavirus is receding as a problem. A slim majority of voters said they believed that the worst of the pandemic was yet to come, compared with 37 percent who said the worst was over.

But many voters also seem to be separating their personal well-being from their views on the state of the country. About half said that they were personally better off than they were four years ago, compared with 32 percent who said they were worse off. However, a clear majority of voters — 55 percent — said the country as a whole was doing worse than in 2016.

Trump retains a few important bastions of support, most notably among white voters without college degrees, who continue to favor him over Biden by 23 percentage points. But that lead is far narrower than the advantage Trump held among less-educated whites in 2016, when those voters preferred him over Hillary Clinton by 37 points.

Biden is on track to win with the overwhelming support of women, people of color and whites with college degrees. If women alone voted, the election would be a landslide of epic proportions: Biden is ahead of Trump among female voters by 23 points, 58 percent to 35 percent. And unlike four years ago, the Democratic nominee is leading Trump among white women by a formidable margin, 52 percent to 43 percent.

Kathryn Jorgensen, 51, a registered Republican in Brookfield, Wis., said that she did not vote for Trump in 2016 and would not do so this year. Trump, she said, has been “so divisive” throughout his tenure as president.

“The important thing is bringing the country back together and addressing the divisions affecting people like racial equity,” Jorgensen said.

A rare spot of welcome news for Republicans came on the subject of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court: While more voters said they would like to see Biden choose future justices, rather than Trump, a plurality of voters also said that the Senate should vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination before the election.

Voters were about evenly split on Barrett as a nominee, indicating that the Supreme Court fight had not given a clear electoral advantage to either party. But a sizable number of voters — about one in seven — gave no opinion, suggesting the court fight had not become an all-consuming issue. Forty-four percent of voters supported Judge Barrett’s nomination, 42 percent opposed it, and the remainder declined to take a position.

If Biden wins the election, it remains to be seen whether he will be a compelling enough president to meld a broad array of anti-Trump constituencies into a sturdy governing alliance.



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